City Council Study Session 11 July 2017

Littleton City Council Study Session              11 July 2017        Citizen Minutes

There were two items on the study session agenda – Broadband Roadmap and Council Priorities.

Littleton’s Municipal Broadband Roadmap

Ken Price, IT Director, started the discussion with a review of his last presentation.  He told council that Littleton Public Schools (LPS) has a mutual interest in broadband.  He talked about Smart Cities – Smart Cities make real time decisions based on real time data.  There are six components with the first being the infrastructure – the backbone of all Smart City Initiatives.  Broadband attracts new business and retains business.  Ken introduced Dave Zelenok, Manager Local Government Services for HR Green, who talked about creating a municipal broadband network.  Mark Relph, city manager, mentioned the potential economic development that could result from broadband and how traffic and parking would be impacted by the use of broadband.  Residential uses were not a priority.  Relph wanted to look at private/public partnerships (P3) and exempting Littleton from Senate Bill 152 which restricts local governments from providing cable television service, telecommunications service or advanced service.n. The exemption would have to come through approval by the voters.

Review of Council Priorities

Council held a retreat on April 28, 2017 and from the all day retreat seven council priorities emerged.  Mark Relph wanted to review the priorities and present a work plan for each.

Priority #1 –  TABOR refund versus investment in infrastructure – the city has collected $1,900,000.00 in tax revenue in excess of TABOR limits.  At the July 25th meeting staff will be presenting proposed resolution language for the November ballot.  The question to the voters, as presented at the meeting, was a two part question – approval to retain the TABORT excess to be spent on specific projects and the second part to reset the TABOR base.  Doug Clark asked what position Tiffany Hooten, Finance Director, predicted Littleton would be in at this time in 2018…..would we talking about a TABOR excess or not.  Hooten said if the base is not reset there will be TABOR excess next year.

Relph said the staff has assembled a preliminary list of projects and ballot language.  The list is:

1.  Enhance citizen access – money would be spent on making the library and museum ADA compliant.

2.  Bowles and Federal – there are alignment and safety issues that require significant pedestrian and signal upgrades.

3.  Pedestrian Safety around Littleton High School – improvements are needed in vehicular and pedestrian interaction

4.  Overall Management of Pavement in Littleton.

Peggy Cole said she did not support the second part of the question dealing with the resetting of the base.  She would prefer to see two separate questions posed to the voters.  Steve Kemp, new city attorney, said he believed the question, even though in two parts, met the single subject requirement but it was a policy decision for council to make whether to present to the voters one or two questions.

Clark suggested that staff be prepared to provide council with a brief explanation of how the base works and include the language used in the last TABOR election.

Jerry Valdes prefers to split the question.

Priority #2 – Change how council meets with the public, holding district meetings once per quarter.  A decision was made about 5 years ago to drop the district meetings in favor of the meet and greet in the parks.  Kelly Narde, Director of Communication, said the thinking was to attract young families.  Narde said she was told by Relph to let the council know staff’s limitations and their capacity to do more.  In that vein, it was suggested to eliminate Coffee with Council if the district meetings returned.

Debbie Brinkman said she did five district meetings and watched the attendance drop.  All of the questions went to public works and police and she thinks the format outlived its usefulness.  We need to go out into the community,  She liked the larger town hall meetings and thought the Urban Renewal meeting at ACC was a good example.  She also suggested phone-in townhall meetings and was not in favor of the return of district meetings and preferred the meetings in the parks.

Clark said he was not wedded to the four district meetings and attendance will ebb and flow.  He remembered when the last TABOR question was on the ballot and citizens came to ask questions.

Bruce Beckman thought the district meetings were manageable.  Cole wanted a way for questions that are asked and answered via email be available to all citizens.

Priority #3 –   Dispatch – Relph said a lot of things have changed since the retreat.  Other options need to be considered and staff needs to reassess and right now there were no specific ideas.  A letter for the Highlands Ranch Fire District was received expressing their disappointment for the No vote on moving Littleton’s dispatch center to South Metro and asking for council to reconsider their vote.  (I will post the letter separately if you want to read.  They actually say that they expect a reversal of the decision and if it has not happened by the end of November they will consider terminating their agreement with Littleton.)  Bill Hopping said he believed that some of the No votes were made because there were unanswered questions rather than based in principal.  Phil Cernanec said a response was needed before the next study session.  The acting Deputy City Manager, Randy Young said the partners are not happy nor do they think they were treated as partners or were listened to resulting in their invoking the use of non- binding mediation per their IGA.  Randy asked if there was any interest in forming an authority. (What this means is that Littleton would no longer have a fire department – Highlands Ranch Fire District, Littleton Fire Protection District and the Littleton Fire Department would form an Authority that would be outside of our governance.  Authorities are funded through property taxes and ultimately the voters would have to approve such a change.)

Priority # 4 – Address design guidelines for impact to community culture –  Future development and redevelopment needs to happen in a way to ensure that community character is maintained and enhanced.  Hopping said the intent is to keep the community culture.  He thought a lot of the work had already been done and did not want an extended project.  He said the Grove looms over downtown and has become rather noticeable!  Recently there have been three homes in downtown that have been torn down and replaced,.  We can’t afford to waste time.  We need to move quickly on the downtown portion.  Hopping also thought there were guidelines in place for the downtown area that are good but then he commented on the new structure in downtown that looked like Osama Bin Laden’s home.

Relph said the Voice of the Community (priority #7) was all about tactics – what staff wants to do is to establish a vision – not values.  He suggested they use the existing work to develop something  city council is comfortable with.  After the visioning process they can come back and adjust the guidelines.  Valdes said we all talk about this stuff but we don’t do anything and Mark suggested a way to get this done.

Priority # 5 – Belleview Corridor – It was suggested that the PEL study for Santa Fe continue and then refocus on the Belleview Corridor and use a broad public process.

Priority #6 – Long Term Capital Plan Strategy.  This will include an update of the 5 year capital projects plan, consider problems based on outcome of the TABOR excess, and provide revenue options for the council to consider (borrow, sales or lodging tax election, reserve policy were listed as some options).

Priority #7 –  Develop Process to Determine Voice of the Community – There will be a series of tactics to get public input.  Start with a visioning – a robust public process that will lead to a formal document – we will find common ground.  It is time to take this on.  This will lead to policy statements that will shape the Complan that will lead to updating the zoning codes.  This will take years – it has never been done here but we need to take this on.  All starts with public engagement and if done well we will get good end results.  We need to do a comprehensive approach from the beginning to the end.  A vision document is powerful and can guide city council.  It will build more of a sense of community.

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